Food Vendors…cash or credit?

Just curious if the food vendors at the camp grounds take credit cards or cash?

9 Replies

jwsknk, April 19, 2016 at 12:52 pm

mostly cash, dealing with a lot of civic groups like churches, fire fighters, boys and girls scouts, a lot that only have the one or 2 day permits. the brick & mortar places would be the only places I would expect to take plastic.


Sandaltan ., April 19, 2016 at 2:28 pm

Bring plenty cash. And…it is not unheard of for all the ATMs in a town to be dry so plan a couple days ahead.



Mike Murphy, April 19, 2016 at 4:26 pm

There are more and more stands that are taking credit cards with the new Square processor, however most still just do cash…..Cash is king for sure on Ragbrai.


czysk, April 19, 2016 at 4:41 pm

Try to bring enough cash for the week. $20 bills or smaller. I have had no problems doing it this way.


“Bicycle Bill”, April 19, 2016 at 5:32 pm

It’s been a while since I rode but cash was always the preferred method of payment.  For larger purchases, some of the bike shops were able to do credit cards/debit cards or willing to take checks, but that was the exception rather than the rule.

Remember too that things like Square work through a smartphone app and must have access, and we all know how difficult it is to use cellular equipment on RAGBRAI due to the sheer volume of traffic and usage. Unless I’m patronizing an actual store or restaurant in a town somewhere I would plan on carrying cash for any purchases I might want to make along the day’s route.

And carry small bills — lots of ones and fives, and definitely nothing bigger than a ten.  Otherwise you’re going to come off as a real PITA if you stop at some kid’s lemonade stand and expect him or her to break a $20 or a $50 for a $2 purchase.



KenH, April 20, 2016 at 8:05 am

Cash works everywhere, credit cards do not, so if you want to have the most choices you use cash for the week. I can’t say from experience if you would starve or not if you only bring plastic…. Twenty dollar bills are essentially the fundamental unit of currency in the US today. Most people can deal with them, even a lot of kid owned and operated lemonade stands, since they normally have adult backers. I do try to break my twenties at big operations that are obviously well prepared to accept them and use smaller bills at other places. But there is only so much you can do and so sometimes little Johnny and Sally lose my business to one of the bigger guys. Or not. I can always buy the meal from the big guy and use the change to buy the lemonade from the kids!


Stephen Paine, April 20, 2016 at 3:31 pm

Yep, only food vendors who sell out of their permanent buildings take credit. Having said that, I have never found it hard to get cash. If a bank’s ATM is out, go to a food store. Come on, you’re not riding on Mars – it’s Iowa. And if by chance the ATM deals you a $100 bill, I guarantee the next beer court or permanent restaurant will break it for you. Use your imagination.


Mindy, April 20, 2016 at 3:50 pm

I usually bring a mixture of $200 ($1, $5, and $10) and I have my prepaid debit card which I can use at an ATM. There are always ATM’s and once I had to use ATM. I was worried in the beginning that it may have run out of cash but no worries, it gave me what I requested.


Pdiddly, April 25, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Cash is best. I used ATMs to replenish with no problem. However, I would always make my ATM stop early in one of the first pass through towns before the locusts descended and depleted the supplies. Besides, what are you going to do with all those receipts?


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